Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Panic and Depression. And a Lack of Logic.

Lately, I feel like I've been coping pretty well.

Yesterday, I found out why.  Because nothing stressful has been going on, really.  Duh.

And then, something stressful happened, and I am back to being a mess.

I got a letter from Social Security yesterday informing me that the state of Ohio will no longer be paying my Medicare premiums.  Instead, $105 will be deducted from my monthly SSDI payment.

Of course, the letter did not explain why.  It's possible it is an error, logically one might assume it has to be, since my income has not changed.  But one would only assume that if one was naive enough to think the system was logical.  Like if one had never been on any type of public assistance.  In reality, the reason is most likely either that the formula the state uses to determine whether they will pay one's Medicare premiums has changed and I no longer qualify according to the new formula or my recent increase in food stamps (I used to get $15 a month and now get a whopping $32) and decrease in my Medicaid spend down (which is like a monthly deductible I must meet in order to receive my Medicaid card) means I am now too wealthy to qualify.  Of course it is ridiculous that getting an additional $17 in food stamps would mean I can afford to pay $105 for Medicare.  But I learned long ago that you'll make yourself crazy if you expect the system to make sense.

I decided to call Social Security to ask why the change.  If you've never had the pleasure of calling  Social Security, well, consider yourself lucky.  After finding my way through an extremely long and convoluted phone tree and holding for a long time while enjoying some elevator music, I finally got to speak to a real live person.  Who informed me I needed to call the state Medicaid department to ask why the change.  Silly  me, I figured since the letter was sent by Social Security and the telephone number printed on the letter was that of Social Security, that was who I should call.

I did not have the energy to call the Medicaid people yesterday.  In fact, I have not summoned the energy yet.

If you have had the pleasure of calling Social Security, well, let me tell you that trying to call the Department of Job and Family Services (the welfare people in my state, where you apply for things like Medicaid and food stamps) is like that experience multiplied by at least five.  Maybe seven.

Last week I had a dentist appointment and I had a question about whether or not I could get a gas voucher from JFS for that appointment.  Seems like a simple question, yes?  So I looked up the number for the JFS office in my county and called to ask my question.  After listening to a very long message which informed me, amount other things, of the hours of my local JFS office, what number to call if I wanted to report child abuse or neglect, what number to call if I wanted to talk to someone about child support, and various other bits of info I did not care about, I was given an 800 number I could call if I had questions about benefits.  And that was it.  No way to reach an actual person.

So I called the 800 number.  Which is a state-wide number, not my local county office.  After holding a while, I was able to speak to an actual person, who informed me that she couldn't answer any questions about gas vouchers because those are administered by the county office, not the state office.  I would need to call my county office.

I told her I had done that first and was unable to speak to a real person but the recorded message said to call the 800 number.  I asked if she had a number for the county office that would reach an actual person.

She didn't.

I asked how I could get an answer to my question.

She offered to give me a fax number.

I have no idea if they would respond to a question via fax (I somehow doubt it) but it doesn't matter because, surprise, I do not own a fax machine.  I pointed out that probably most people that are poor enough to be on Medicaid and need gas vouches probably can't afford fax machines.


I asked how I could get an answer to my question.

She suggested I go into my local JFS office to ask.  Yes, that's right.  Drive to the JFS office, using gas, to ask if I can get a gas voucher, which I might or might not actually be able to get.

There's logic for you.

So anyway.  I have not called yet to ask them why they will no longer be paying my Medicare premiums.  I simply have not had the energy.  And... I keep crying.  I'd prefer to call when I am able to complete the call without bursting into tears.

Plus, who knows if they will be able to give me an answer on the phone?  Maybe I'll need to fax them my question, on my non-existent fax machine.  Or maybe I'll have to drive there and sit in an uncomfortable lobby for a long time to ask my question.  I guess the benefit to that, if you want to call it that, is that occasionally if you burst into tears and look like a crazy person in a place like that, they actually try to help you, either out of pity or fear or just to get you out there as quickly as possible.  Of course, they might also respond by calling security, so that's the change you take, I guess.  It's a situation I prefer to avoid, if I can.

I will call.  When I feel in control of my emotions enough.

Right now, I feel panicky and depressed.  I've cried a lot.  I know $105 probably does not sound like much to most people.  But it is almost half my rent.  It is a lot to me.  Plus apparently I don't cope well with unexpected news like this.

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